This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 36: Trance
“I am a few years older than you.” The wind outside blew. When Huan Zhong said this, his mind was slightly dazed. He did not even know why he would say such a thing.
“Whoa, I cannot see it. I feel you are just a bit older than me.” Looking at Huan Zhong’s face which seemed about twenty-something years old, Kong Hou thought of the saying “no age in cultivation.” Ordinary people had a longevity of a few decades, and their mental state and thinking would change, not to mention people hundreds of years old.
In this moment, she seemed to have comprehended something but still did not understand.
“Kong Hou minds greatly that I am older than you?” Huan Zhong bent his head, and even his hair and eyelashes seemed to be melancholy.
When a beauty was melancholic, the effect was great. In this moment, Kong Hou was filled with regret. She felt that she had mentioned something she should not. “No, Huan Zhong, do not misunderstand. I do not mind this. All my shixiong and shijie are one or two hundred years older than me. We play together well—age is not a problem. I will not dislike you!”
While she had only interacted with Huan Zhong for a few short days, Huan Zhong was a good friend. He would share storybooks, beautiful treehouses, and news about the cultivation world with her, and he was so good-looking.
With such a good-looking face, who cared how old he was?
“Master, we’ve arrived at the inn.” Lin Hu lifted the curtain halfway and his gaze landed on Huan Zhong. Huan Zhong did not meet his gaze as he elegantly leaned back against the cushions. “Go reserve rooms. Kong Hou and I will immediately come.”
Lin Hu moved his gaze away and put down the curtain. His voice came from outside. “All right, Master.”
The curtain swayed slightly. Huan Zhong looked at the glass bead fringe at the bottom of the curtain and slowly blinked his eyes. Lifting the curtain, he walked off the carriage. He looked around, and then said to Kong Hou who was getting off the carriage, “The conditions here are not great.”
“When travelling, one should not be so picky.” Kong Hou jumped off the carriage, and her feet sank into the snow. She lifted her foot and heard the sound of the wind blowing on cloth. An old cloth banner flew from a wooden tower on the left with its gates locked. She did not know how long ago it had been washed as it was so dirty she could not read the characters on it.
A feeling of desolateness filled the entire street.
“Noble guests, please come inside.” The greeter came out. He wanted to lead the horses away, but before he could come close, the horses started to whinny. He leapt backwards in fright and did not dare to move.
The greeter’s clothing was patched but clean. His gaze seemed extremely careful, as though he worried the guests would leave immediately if they were discontent. He was not wearing thick clothes. His cloth shoes were already wet in the snow. His hands and skin that were exposed outside his clothes were blue, but he didn’t dare to rub his hands together to get warm.
“No matter. These two horses are obedient and will not run away.” Kong Hou looked at the shoes he wore. “Take us in to see the rooms.”
“All right, noble guests.” The greeter stepped through the door. The large hall was cold, with only a few guests eating. The light of the oil lamps was dim and flickered in the wind coming through the door.
Maybe because the hall was so deserted, the guests inside all raised their heads when they saw other guests come in. They relied on observing strangers to pass the time. But when they looked, they inhaled in shock. Such a handsome gentleman, such a beautiful girl. Which little couple came out to play and ended up here?
“Master, Miss Kong Hou, the rooms upstairs are empty. I have reserved three rooms next to each other.” Lin Hu came down the stairs. Seeing the innkeeper and the greeter not daring to speak, he put the spirit stones on the table. “Get hot water and deliver it upstairs.”
The innkeeper bowed and gave his thanks before asking them what they wanted to eat.
Lin Hu knew that Master was not picky about his food and looked at Kong Hou. Kong Hou said, “Prepare some good dishes.”
“All right.” The innkeeper’s smile grew and he turned to the greeter behind him. “Go prepare, pick the best.” Just looking at Huan Zhong and Kong Hou’s attire, he knew they were not ordinary people—they may be powerful cultivators. These cultivators were generous but not easy to serve. He was uncertain when he welcomed them in. Seeing the female guest so easy to talk to, his eyes narrowed in joy.
Kong Hou and the others went upstairs. Looking at the carved doors with the paint worn off, it was hard to believe this was the best inn in Three Trees Town. Kong Hou turned and said to Huan Zhong, “The people here do not seem to live well. Just now, the greeter outside was wearing wet shoes.”
Huan Zhong nodded even though he did not notice what the greeter looked like. “Go and rest in your room first.”
“All right.” Kong Hou pushed open the door. The room was clean, but the old furniture made the entire room look gloomy. The candlelight in the room was dim. Kong Hou took out an illuminating talisman from her storage ring to put on the table. She opened the window to let the room breathe.
The sky was dark, and she could not see many figures on the street. A man selling charcoal limped in the snow, carrying charcoal which had not been sold. His basket carried charcoal on the left and a child of five or six on the right. The little child was holding a large meat dumpling and chewing on it, the leather hat on his head covering half of his face.
Kong Hou heard the child call the man dad.
“Dad, this dumpling has meat; you eat it.”
“Sit down. Don’t move,” the man said fiercely. “Your father isn’t hungry.”
“Will you believe I will whip you?” The man put down the basket, and took off his jacket to put over the child. “Do not open your mouth and talk. If wind goes into your stomach, you will be in pain.”
The child raised the dumpling high and insisted the man eat.
The man glared at him, bent down and took a bite before picking up the basket and slowly walking forward.
Kong Hou stared at the father and son for a long time. She only moved her gaze away and sat down by the table when they could not be seen anymore. Kong Hou had never experienced this kind of love between father and son.
That greeter whose hands were blue but still had to smile at guests, and this father who had a hard life but loved his child were all members of the cultivation world. They lived in poverty, but they still persisted in living. They hoped for the future, and for their future generations.
She touched her chest. It felt slightly sore and hot. Her spirit platform which had not moved for a long time started to loosen. The sound of wind outside became exceptionally clear. Sitting cross-legged on the bed, Kong Hou closed her eyes and entered a meditative state.
Reading a book under an illuminating talisman, Huan Zhong put down his book and walked to the window. The surrounding spirit energy was floating towards the room next to him as though something was attracting it. His hand paused before he opened the window. Then he let his hand fall.
“Master.” Lin Hu walked in. “Miss Kong Hou…”
“She should be in a trance.” Huan Zhong responded without turning around. “Tell the other people in the inn to not come and disturb in the next few days. Give them more money for our staying here a few days.”
“All right, Master.” Lin Hu’s expression was slightly strange. “I just received a message seal from the sect. The sect master and the peak masters seem worried that something has happened to you.”
He handed the flying message seal to Huan Zhong. Huan Zhong channeled spirit energy into the flying message seal and swept through the content. His brow furrowed. Kong Hou said that buying special products for the sect would make them happy. Why did Master and the shishu not seem happy?
Did they not like what he had the postage office send?
“What is the next town?” Huan Zhong put away the flying message seal thoughtfully.
“It is Yi City.”
“Is there anything worth buying?” Huan Zhong asked.
Lin Hu stilled. “Yes, Yi City is famed for its embroidery.”
“I know.” Huan Zhong nodded slowly. Master and the shishu did not seem to like food. They should like embroidery better.
The first day, Kong Hou did not wake up from her meditative trance. Huan Zhong cultivated for a day.
The second day, Kong Hou still did not wake up from her trance. Huan Zhong bought several storybooks from a run-down bookstore in the city.
The third day, Kong Hou was still in her trance. When Huan Zhong came downstairs, he saw several Energy Refinement cultivators blaming the greeter. The greeter was kneeling on the ground, wiping the water, his legs completely soaked.
Huan Zhong did not like to meddle in such matters and passed them with a cold expression. He accidentally saw the swollen hand joints of the greeter, and remembered that Kong Hou said the people of this town had hard lives. He stopped and watched as a cultivator kicked the greeter’s back and left behind a large and dirty footprint on the greeter’s back.
“You are too noisy.” Huan Zhong expressionlessly looked at the Energy Refinement cultivators. “Do not be loud in public areas. Which sect are you from that you do not know the rules?”
“You boy…” The cultivator was going to curse but seeing the light of the seal scripts on Huan Zhong’s clothing, he hurriedly closed his mouth. He bowed and said, “Us crude people do not know the rules. Master, forgive us for disturbing your rest.”
Huan Zhong looked down at the greeter’s back. “You have to pay for dirtying people’s clothes.”
“Master, you are right.” The Energy Refinement cultivator nodded and shoved a handful of jade coins into the greeter’s hand. “This is our fault.”
“I do not dare to take honored guest’s compensation.” The greeter did not dare to take the jade coins from cultivators. None of the cultivators reached to take the coins back.
“They are compensating you. Put it away.” Huan Zhong raised his hand and the greeter stood up uncontrollably. He looked back in shock at Huan Zhong. So this noble gentleman was also a cultivator?
Huan Zhong saw the cultivators shrinking back and wanting to leave. He raised his chin slightly. “Leaving now?”
The cultivators’ legs weakened and they cursed on the inside. They could only come back and stand with lowered heads in front of Huan Zhong.
“In the future, do not let me see you doing things like this.”
“Yes!” The cultivators hurriedly agreed.
Huan Zhong nodded minutely. He raised his finger and indicated they could leave. The cultivators saw this, and ran away as they spoke their thanks without any of the arrogance they had previously.
“Thank you, Transcendent, for your help.” The greeter came in front of Huan Zhong and bowed repeatedly in thanks. He almost knelt.
Seeing the other act so humble, Huan Zhong was silent for a long time. He said coolly, “No need for thanks.” Walking out of the inn, he looked back. The greeter was carefully putting the jade coins away in his clothing. Afraid that the jade coins would fall out, he retied his belt.
Seeing this, Huan Zhong felt slightly strange. He did not like to participate in things unrelated to him, but today, it did not seem so dislikable.
He took out a paper umbrella from his storage ring. This was the one that Kong Hou had given him a few days ago in the treehouse. Opening the umbrella, Huan Zhong looked at Kong Hou’s room. It had been three days. He didn’t know when the young girl would wake up.
He took a walk around. There was a bun shop that called itself a thousand years old. Huan Zhong remembered that Kong Hou might be interested in this, and bought a few buns. Passing a few young beggars on the street, he stopped and threw a few jade coins. When he returned to the inn, he remembered Kong Hou was still in her meditative trance. Seeing Lin Hu come down the stairs, he shoved the buns into Lin Hu’s arms.
“Master?” Holding the hot buns, Lin Hu was puzzled. What did this mean?
“Eat more; it is good for your body.” Huan Zhong folded the umbrella and expressionlessly went up the stairs. Passing Kong Hou’s door, he took out several Spirit Gathering Seals to paste on the door. In an instant, the spirit energy that flooded towards the room grew more abundant.
Satisfied with the concentration of spirit energy, Huan Zhong returned to his room and took out his lifebond sword. This sword appeared ordinary, with a black hilt and a blade that flashed with silver light. It did not have any inlaid precious stones, nor tassels. The only attractive trait about it was the dark patterns on the blade.
When he held the hilt, the sword hummed. Huan Zhong covered his chest and coughed, the blade reflecting his cold eyes. After staring for a while at the eyes on the blade, Huan Zhong touched the blade with his index finger. The humming stopped.
“Master.” Lin Hu’s voice came from outside the door.
Lin Hu came in and saw Huan Zhong holding his sword. He strode in front of Huan Zhong. “Master, you…”
“You finished the buns?” Huan Zhong put away his sword and interrupted Lin Hu.
“Yes.” Lin Hu’s expression blanked.
“Were they good?” Huan Zhong asked.
“They seemed… all right?” Lin Hu felt that buns just tasted like buns, nothing good or bad about them.
“Seems that the taste is average.” Huan Zhong frowned. A bun shop with average taste dared to say it was a thousand years old—had it been average for a thousand years?
“Master, with your present condition, it is best not to use your sword.” Even though Huan Zhong had interrupted him, Lin Hu did not forget what he wanted to say. “I’m afraid it will aggravate your injuries.”
“I know.” Huan Zhong lowered his face, expressionless. “I know what my body is like.”
Lin Hu saw Huan Zhong’s lack of emotion and became even more worried. Medicine was hard to find, but the most difficult was the mental state. Master had no wish or desires—how could he pass the mental demons?
Huan Zhong suddenly stood. “Kong Hou has woken up.” He walked to the door and pushed it open.
Lin Hu stilled and followed.
Kong Hou opened her eyes. The illuminating talisman on the table had turned off due to a lack of spirit energy. The candlelight had also burned out. The weather outside was not good, and the room seemed dim.
She exhaled deeply. This time, her cultivation had advanced greatly in her trance. Her original Base Building level five cultivation became Base Building level nine. If she cultivated a while more, she might reach full Base Building and prepare to attack Mind Activation.
A knock sounded. She pulled the door open and saw Huan Zhong standing outside. Seeing such a beautiful Huan Zhong, Kong Hou remembered she had not groomed herself for several days. Her expression instantly changed. “Huan Zhong, let’s chat later.”
Seeing the door close in his face, Huan Zhong looked back at Lin Hu in puzzlement.
Lin Hu shook his head. “Master, do not look at me—I do not understand what Miss Kong Hou meant.” If he understood women, he would not still be single after several hundred years.
Huan Zhong reached out and tore off the Spirit Gathering Seals on the door. He moved his hand and the seals turned to dust. Lin Hu did not understand. His master was doing good things without leaving behind his name? Fortunately, he was not chasing his love interest. Otherwise, with his master like this, the girl might not understand his intentions even after a century.
“Miss Kong Hou, if there is anything you need, call me,” Huan Zhong said. “I will have the inn prepare food for you.”
The door opened just a crack and showed half of Kong Hou’s face. “Huan Zhong, thank you. I will come down after washing up.”
Huan Zhong finally understood why Kong Hou had closed the door. He nodded. “All right.”
So a little girl would mind something like this? Huan Zhong felt that he seemed to understand the habits of little girls more.
Just now, the young girl had been very lovely and sweet when she hurriedly closed the door.
Outside the gates of Three Trees Town, a flying boat landed. Several disheveled cultivators hurriedly ran out. One of them was almost unable to stand up, just barely supported by a sword.
“Shixiong, this is a small town; I fear there are no experts here.” The blue-robed female cultivator had a pale face. She had no energy to wipe the blood on her mouth. “How about we change our destination? At least, we will not affect the people in the city.”
But right now, they did not have any spirit energy to keep the flying ship floating. Where should they go to draw away the people chasing them?
“No time.” The blue robed male she called shixiong looked at the roiling black clouds and the shrieking black birds. He pulled his sword out of the ground. “Run towards the west. I will delay them.”
“Do not waste words. Do you want the people in the town to die with us?” the blue-robed male said with a grave expression. “All of you, go.”
He suppressed the fluctuating spirit energy in his chest and flew into the sky with his sword.
“Shixiong!” The blue-robed female wiped her tears and said to the young shidi and shimei behind her, “You go. I will go help Shixiong!”
Translator Ramblings: Poor longsuffering Ling Hu. He’s a butler, a confidant, a counselor and a guinea pig all in one.